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View from around the state: Certainty is worth cost of recount

The recount of the votes in the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court race is the right thing to do. Challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg, who trails incumbent Justice David Prosser by 7,316 votes, requested the statewide recount recently.

“Wisconsin residents must have full confidence that these election results are legitimate and that this election was fair,” she said.

She’s absolutely correct.

It’s easy to say that Kloppenburg is motivated by sour grapes and that taxpayers should not have to pay for a recount that could cost more than $1 million and in all likelihood not change the outcome of the race.

Even Prosser jumped on that bandwagon by releasing a statement that accused Kloppenburg of “wasting taxpayers’ hard-earned money.”

But this is about more than the money. This was a messy political race soiled by third-party nastiness that was downright embarrassing and fueled by opponents of Gov. Scott Walker who wanted to support Kloppenburg to send the governor a message.

The reality is that no recount has ever changed a 7,300-some vote total. If that were the end of the story, a recount would probably not be necessary.

But it only adds more gas to the fraud allegations fire when 14,315 votes were discovered in Waukesha County by a Republican clerk and announced two days after the election, changing the outcome of the race.

Consider if the roles were reversed. What if Prosser had won by a narrow margin and a Democratic county clerk with a history of state political connections and a questionable track record of counting ballots suddenly announced she forgot to count more than 14,000 votes and Kloppenburg emerged as the victor?

Would everyone still feel the same about whether the recount was needed?

Prosser’s campaign spokesman Brian Nemoir stated that the only thing Kloppenburg will accomplish by the recount is to challenge and disenfranchise thousands of Wisconsin’s citizens. He’s wrong because the opposite may indeed occur. If we do not, through a painstaking recount process, ensure our citizens that we can trust our ballot process, then that will disenfranchise our citizens.

Kloppenburg also announced that she wants the Government Accountability Board to investigate Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus. We support that move as well. Nickolaus should either be cleared of any wrongdoing if that’s the case or removed from office if she did something wrong.

This recount isn’t really about who wins. This is about the process, not about Prosser or Kloppenburg. It’s essential that citizens can trust that when they vote, it’s accurately recorded and accurately reported.

Negative campaigns and voter apathy do enough on their own to keep people away from the ballot box. We need to know that the politicians who collect the most votes have really earned that right to uphold our trust.

— La Crosse Tribune

4 comments

  1. Come on! how many times have I seen where the Repblican was winning and all of a sudden the Democrats found just enough paper ballots to pull off a Democratic win.

    Talk about third party involvment!! The unions brought in so many people from out of state, if Wisconsin could have counted them in the census the state would have picked up two more seats in the House of Representatives..

    John

  2. Kloppenburg IS wasting taxpayer money. I am already certain who won the race and think Kloppenburg does the state a great disservice. I’m worried the election will be rigged this time. Here’s hoping for and trusting in local clerks not to be harrassed by democrats and unions.
    Cat

  3. Again, the point seems to be lost on everyone that the nimrod in Waukesha did not “find” or “discover” any votes. The vote totals from Brookfield, as ultimately reported from Waukesha County are the same numbers the City of Brookfield reported on election night. This has been verified time and time again. The GAB investigated it and found no fraud. There is a public record of the City of Brookfield’s initial vote totals-as it reported on election night. These match the official county canvass numbers. End of story.

    Saying the City of Brookfield votes were “discovered” is a blatant misrepresentation of the facts and serves only to fan the partisan flames. Saying the votes were “discovered” implies they were manufactured fraudulently. If this is the case, then we would have to accept the notion that no one voted in Brookfield or that the Brookfield clerk manufactured votes on election night. The first premise is utterly ridiculous, and there has not even been a allegation of the second. What a waste of taxpayer money…..but certainly a good money generator for the press.

  4. Unfortunately, it does not seem that the Wisconsin recount procedure includes allowing the candidates to examine either the unused ballots or the absentee ballot envelopes that the voters return their ballots in. Without being allowed to examine both these records, there is no way to detect illicit ballot box stuffing or ballot substitution occurring at any of the central city or county election offices. It is not enough to do a polling place reconciliation. The number of total ballots ordered from the printer should be shown to match the total number of voters who cast ballots + the spoiled ballots + the unused ballots. Otherwise, unaccounted for unused ballots could be used during the election to pad or substitute for voters’ ballots. The absentee ballot envelopes are analogous to the pollbooks because they have the voters’ signatures and addresses. Examining the absentee ballot applications will not do because not all voters who request absentee ballots return them. The absentee ballot envelopes are a voter registration record required to update the voter rolls so the NVRA of 1993 gives a federal right to examine them. I do not know if Wisconsin law requires securing and allowing examination of the unused ballots to be able to reconcile voters with ballots county-wide, but it should.

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